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Why life would return to normal if Pompeii disappeared again
Naples - February 4, 2015 - A gang of tomb raiders was active again near the
ancient city of Pompeii and at the ancient Greek site of Paestum south of Naples,
142 people were placed under investigation and hundreds of plundered
artifacts were seized.
Some links to Naples' Camorra Mafia were uncovered, although most of the tomb
raiders acted out individually, police said.
The writing is on the wall for the world's most celebrated archaeological
site. Pompeii is, in a sense, doomed anyway:
Its first destruction was assured when Vesuvius blew its head off 2000
Its second occurred upon its rediscovery in the mid-18th century when
archaeologists began clearing away the ash and exposing what was left to the
Its third and final doom was sealed upon the birth of the city of
Naples 15 miles north, and handing over the preservation of the antique
city in the capable hands of...the Napolitani.
Today, ONLY five skilled workers take care of the entire
archaeological site, while the dozens of other custodians should be changing
oil somewhere. Here's the pecking order at the Pompeii offices: Monday and Wednesday, Giuseppe bosses Luigi,
Tuesday and Thursday, Luigi bosses Giuseppe,
Friday, the janitor wears the business tie and runs the show.
It's a tomb raider's dream: the archaeological site is gigantic. More
than 100 acres of streets, private houses, and public buildings with limited
surveillance. The only possibilities of apprehending the thieves are:
1) the holes and tunnels they dig cave in and bury them alive,
2) the stray dogs roaming the city ruins have them for dinner,
3) accidentally get hit over the head with their own shovel,
4) Vesuvius buries them.
In order to avoid Naples' shenanigans and horseplay, cruise ship
passengers who stopover at the city's port literally have to be escorted to
Pompeii...preferably by armored tank.
The director of the Guggenheim Museum in Los Angeles, who rakes in
more money with the museum's onsite parking than Pompeii does the entire
year, may not be available to run the antique city.
Pompeii's general director, Luigi Malnati, declared that the city is
plagued by collapses because of years of bad weather. Obviously, no one has
ever informed the director and his multitude of "oil-changing"
commissioners that it's been raining in Pompeii for over 2000 years. Wait
till they find out about the heat from the summers.
In conclusion, on a positive note, Pompeii is one of the most modern
cities you'll find when visiting Italy.
Why the Church covers its ears and yells "LA-LA-LA" over the
Shroud of Turin
Turin - February 3, 2015 - Almost 600,000 bookings have been made to see the
mysterious Shroud of Turin, reputed to bear the image of Christ, when it opens
for public viewing this spring, officials said.
The Shroud, rarely seen by the public, will be displayed in the Chapel of the
Shroud in the crypt beneath Turin's most important cathedral.
The city and Diocese of Turin are preparing for inflows of guests by training
some 4,500 volunteers to work with visitors.
Believers say the linen cover was used to cover the body of Christ after his
Some sceptics believe the Shroud is nothing more than an elaborate fake
dating from the Middle Ages, triggering centuries of debate over whether the
image is truly that of Christ.
Radiocarbon-dating tests conducted on the cloth in 1988 suggested it dates
between 1260 and 1390; however, other scientists have since claimed those
results could have been distorted by centuries of contamination.
That has led to calls for more testing, which the Vatican has consistently
600,000 bookings...Moses didn't get a response like this when he performed
that water trick with a stick.
The Holy Shroud. One of Christianity's greatest objects of adoration and one
of its most prized relics. Bow before it, mortals!
Of course, being heavily guarded in bullet-proof, climate-controlled glass
case, hidden away underneath a cathedral adds to the fascination and punctuates
its importance. But when the topic of its authenticity comes up, the Vatican won't
give you any satisfaction. You'll get better acknowledgment from Kissinger.
No need to worry, we'll now attempt to give it to you on its behalf:
(We're curious to see how far we can get away with this before we receive
another concerned email from the Holy See):
1) Mortal: How did the Vatican prove its authenticity? Unofficial Vatican: Simple. We have never declared it to be authentic.
Haven't you ever heard of, "Never let them see you sweat?"
2) Mortal: The Bible itself (John 20:7) makes it clearly
understood the shroud is a fake. Unofficial Vatican: It depends on how you interpret it. How does
one interpret sticking coins at the bottom of Madonna statues?
3) Mortal: What about the 1988 radiocarbon-dating tests suggesting
it dates between 1260 and 1390? Unofficial Vatican: Contamination. It has been displayed for numerous
public exhibitions over the past 650 years. Everyone and their mother has
been near it.
4) Mortal: An Italian team of scientists claimed in a study that a
powerful magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Jerusalem in 33AD may have altered the
carbon 14 dating results. They state the earthquake would have been strong
enough to release neutron particles from crushed rock. Therefore, a flood of
neutrons could have imprinted an X-ray-like image onto the shroud. Now,
were these scientists drunk or high at the time? Unofficial Vatican: When science doesn't back up your beliefs, you don't
change your beliefs...you change the science.
Unofficial Vatican: Yes, all the boys here in Rome did get a
chuckle out of it. Of course, we'll still have to get it condemned and
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Why the evil eye never works out the way it's planned
Palermo - February 4, 2015 - It comes as no surprise that Italians are
considered a complicated people.
On the one hand, many of them, especially the older generations, are
passionate believers in the Catholic Church. On the other hand, a large portion
of the population, especially in the south, believes in the almighty evil eye
(malocchio) which is still well known and feared in many cultures around the
Even if witches, black cats and various other superstitious beliefs have
never affected your lives, you may nevertheless have wondered about Italy's
version of the evil eye.
Malocchio is best described as a curse brought on by the all-too-common
sentiments: envy, jealousy, and possessive love, etc. Though strangely, it
can be something as simple as a compliment. For example:
"Oh, mamma mia, look how lovely your child is! So adorable!"
If you come across a relative, friend or acquaintance who has a history of
being a conniving, insincere, sneaky, thieving "figlio di puttana" who
compliments you on your child...congratulations, the curse has just been set.
Incidentally, if a nun just happens to be present at the phony interaction (they
always appear at the most inconvenient moments), consider the curse to be
twice as powerful.
What to do? You could quickly make a sign of the horn (image below),
preferably behind your back, to protect your child, your sanity and to ward off
the spirits that are supposedly on their way.
Several Italians wear the horn-shaped charm ("corno") as a necklace for
protection. Some go as far as to have one hanging from the rear view mirror of
the car. You know...the one that is commonly mistaken for a real hot red
pepper. These are the Italians who should also be driving around with
handicapped licence plates.
When the evil eye has been set upon you, it may come in many different
colorful forms. The most common is the insufferable headache. Supposedly, a
Catholic who has been baptised, communed and confirmed may be able to help with
an old and reasonably priced ritual (some preposterous and cockamamie thing
about reciting a private prayer on New Years Eve so that the he/she will be
empowered by the grace God to rid you of the evil eye).
However, be careful for you will be told the situation could complicate
itself if you have birds and bird feathers, especially peacock feathers,
in your home. Oh, yes...unbeknownst to you, they apparently carry the evil eye.
Canaries and parrots are small in size therefore, the amount of evil spirits
they could carry should be a harmless minimum. But your prize peacock will
most likely have to be given away or abandoned at the nearest park.
On the positive side, you can counter the bad luck with a sneezing cat
which is considered good luck to all those who hear it.
Most reliable remedy: When you find yourself confronting the
individuals (or better yet, the blessed Catholic) who suggest to you the
aforementioned ritual, grab a water spray bottle, spray your cat's face, show
them the alternative cure (bottle of aspirin) and the front door to leave.
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